Oh Fer Fuck’s Sake

Sooner had a much more elegant post, and yes, there may be issues behind his disappearance that will be dealt with later, but the reason we rescued Sgt. Bergdahl is because that is what we do. It’s an unwritten code that you bring your men back. Period. Even the ones you may think were shitbirds. They’re one of us.

You try to tell someone to enlist for a shitty war that if they get captured, we might not do anything to get them because they sent some emails that pissed off the National Review or their dad is a long hair. We brought Bergdahl back because we don’t leave guys behind. It’s the same reason we repatriate remains of airmen found in Viet Nam whose bodies have just been found 40 years later. No one gets left behind, and we owe a debt to all soldiers and their families to bring them home. Period. It’s why we wear dog tags and have DNA samples. No one, if possible, gets left behind. These armchair commandos have heard of the Tomb of the Unknowns and the Old Guard, fer fuck’s sake? That’s the lengths we go to to honor our dead, missing, and unidentifiable.

It’s just that fucking simple.

And btw- Bergdahl spent more time in uniform and in combat than Limbaugh, Kristol, Theissen, and hundreds of these other mother fuckers combined. End of story.

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75 replies
  1. 1
    Lee Rudolph says:

    That last paragraph bears repeating over, and over, and over. It’s chickenshit chicken-hawks all the way down.

  2. 2
    nancy darling says:

    Couldn’t agree more, John. Bless you! The people who are throwing around the word “treason” and slandering Bergdahl’s parents are lower than pond scum.

  3. 3
    jayjaybear says:

    And of course, even with the same circumstances behind his disappearance and capture, if it were a Republican in office, he’d be getting a tickertape parade. Rarely has the incredible gap between right-wingers and reality been shown out so starkly.

  4. 4


    seen this quite a bit today.

  5. 5
    jl says:

    Attacking Sgt. Bergdahl is so yesterday. The wingnut rage-a-holics have moved on to his dad.

    Conservatives Turn Their Criticism Toward Bergdahl’s Father

    Once cool meme is that by saying an Islamic ceremonial religious phrase in Arabic at the announcement, the dad turned the WH into a mosque (!!!111!!!111!!!)

    Allen West has been on this angle, but best to leave him out. ‘Al’ is an Arabic word, so who is This Allen West, really? Mole? Irresponsible not to speculate.

  6. 6
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    Even the ones you may think were shitbirds. They’re one of us.

    Yep. Without casting any aspersions on SGT Bergdahl and the character of his service, there is a real downside to the suggestion in popular culture that soldiers are Heroes. Most are not. Most are people doing an often dirty and sometimes dangerous job. They are neither better nor worse than other people doing those types of jobs. But the popular image of the soldier as hero means that people often look down on a guy wasn’t Rambo. Well, guess what? Very few guys are Rambo or SGT York. Most just go and do their jobs as well as they can and try to get home safely.

  7. 7
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    There is nothing I love more than a JC righteous rant and this is one of them. During the Falklands it was pretty much an open secret that a particular Army Commander was shot in the back by his own troops to prevent him making yet another fuck up decision. Not one of those troops protested when he was awarded the Victoria Cross for valor in battle.

    You do not wind down a war and leave one of your troops in enemy hands when there could be a deal to get him back. If Obama had decided to leave him where he was you can just imagine what the right wing nut jobs would have been saying about him. He was fucked if he did and he would have been fucked if he didn’t. These people do not care what POTUS does, they will be agin it.

  8. 8
    Ash Can says:

    If these pissants are going to get all bent out of shape about Bergdahl, maybe we need to make them all take down their black POW-MIA flags, and consign that whole movement to the trash bin. Because who knows what some of those guys may have been thinking? And maybe we need to launch an investigation into John McCain, because some of that stuff he did and signed and said when he was in captivity was downright Bergdahl-esque. And maybe we’d better start investigating Budweiser for their support-the-troops ad campaigns, and find out just what it is they’re supporting. Hell, maybe we just need to shit-can all vets, pretty much like we’re already doing —

    …Oh. OK, now I get it.

  9. 9
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Someone from 2 Para shot Lt Col Jones in the back? I will note that Goose Green went better after Keeble took over.

  10. 10
    Ash Can says:


    If Obama had decided to leave him where he was you can just imagine what the right wing nut jobs would have been saying about him.

    Those folks were peeing themselves when Obama announced the Afghanistan pull-out because they were convinced Bergdahl was going to be left behind by the swarthy Kenyan troop-hater.

  11. 11
    Kay says:

    I love that they have no hesitancy or sense of disproportionate force when they use their giant, unearned megaphone to pile on three regular people and start screeching at them.

    They’ve gone from attacking the President to attacking any person who stands next to the President.

    Sarah Palin, who was a candidate for VP of the United States and the Governor of Alaska, is beating up on three ordinary people who had the misfortune to appear briefly on her television screen, one of whom is in the hospital and can’t defend himself at all.

  12. 12
    EZSmirkzz says:

    The link Sooner posted, ( http://www.rollingstone.com/po.....print=true ) from 2012 is a must read John. He escaped and fought like a boxer, it took 5 Taliban to bring him down and afterwards he was kept in chains. The report on his platoon and command is none too flattering either.

    I am of the opinion that there is more going on here than meets the eye, and I believe you may know what I mean by that. Otherwise YMMV.

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    Bergdahl might start to miss the sanity of the Taliban if this keeps up.

  14. 14
    Long Tooth says:

    During WW2, George Patton sent an armored column miles behind enemy lines in a forlorn attempt to rescue his son-in-law from a German POW camp. The column got badly shot-up, and Patton later denied knowing his daughter’s husband was anywhere near the camp (it turned out he did know, of course).

    Like Patton in that instance, the $hot-caller$ in the GOP consider the sergeant to be the paid help (to be treated accordingly). As far as the republican party is concerned, soldiers are pawns, worth far less than the crooked politicians they pay to do their bidding. Like those soldiers Patton sent on that mission, republicans today don’t give a rat’s ass about any soldier’s welfare, one way or the other (much less the general welfare). They are the party of rule or ruin, and they are prepared to goddamn anyone or anything that gets in their way in their pursuit of power.

  15. 15
    Ajabu says:

    Even as we speak Chris Matthews is going berserk over the “5 really bad guys” that were exchanged for Bergdahl. And while he’s at it, he seems to have signed onto the repug meme that Bergdahl “walked away from his unit leaving his uniform and weapon behind – maybe headed for Pakistan”
    First, if that’s true so fucking what? The army brought him there. The army needs to bring him home.
    Second, WTF is up with Tweety? Every time I think he’s finally realized that the GOP are full of shit he does a 180 like this. Dumb ass fucker.

  16. 16
    Cassidy says:

    The IAVA FB page has been fun today. Lots of people forgetting their Army Values. Good times.

  17. 17
    ellennelle says:

    speaking of mccain….

    didn’t nixon trade some north vietnamese pow’s, y’know, back in the day? for his own sorry pow ass?

    just, y’know, sayin’.

    (sidebar; is he? mentioning this fact, i mean; i wonder.)

  18. 18
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    I had a long conversation with his wife in a bar in Gibraltar several years after the war, she was by this time a VERY wealthy woman thanks to all of the funds that were set up to support the dependents of the Falklands war dead (when I asked her how much she had received she said “in the millions”) and being in that we were in a bar she was of course opening up a little more than she would have in polite society. (I seem to remember we were throwing back many Tia Maria’s and coke, which is what struck up the conversation to begin with, we were both drinking the same thing). When I questioned her about the rumours she looked at me and said “his men did what they had to do, his judgment was not what it should have been.”

    At the time the rumours circulated I just passed it off as Scuttlebutt as someone mentioned before but after talking to his Wife it became clear to me that unless they had taken him out the war would not have gone the way it went. Goose Green was indeed significant.

    What is more significant is that his troops kept their mouths shut when he was put forward for a Victoria Cross. It appears to me that the troops who served with Bowe are not sharing the same honour.

  19. 19
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: I did a paper on Goose Green while I was at the Field Artillery Basic Officer Course, lo, these many years ago, and the official sources available to me made no mention of anything like that. Go figure.

  20. 20
    Wag says:

    I saw a 70 year old conservative Vietnam vet today that I know pretty well. He’s pissed about how the GOP is handling this. No respect for the troops, etc.

  21. 21
    LanceThruster says:


  22. 22
    gogol's wife says:


    God, this comment has the ring of truth, I hate to say.

  23. 23
    Heliopause says:


    speaking of mccain….

    didn’t nixon trade some north vietnamese pow’s, y’know, back in the day?

    He traded the whole freaking war. The POW release was in exchange for withdrawal of American forces.

  24. 24
    rikyrah says:

    And btw- Bergdahl spent more time in uniform and in combat than Limbaugh, Kristol, Theissen, and hundreds of these other mother fuckers combined. End of story.


  25. 25
    Kay says:


    I think it’s good. If they go berserk over the 5 really bad guys coming out then they can’t raise a bigger fuss over the other less bad guys who are also (hopefully) coming out :)

    It’s like ripping off a band aid! Get it over with.

  26. 26
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Wag: This is going to turn out to be another Terry Schiavo moment for the GOP. They’re going to lose a lot of people on this one.

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Baud: The teahadis make the Taliban look relatively normal.

  28. 28
    ralphb says:

    @Ajabu: Tweety is just a giant coward and overall blowhard. Terrified he might get caught on the non-proper Beltway side of an argument. Thus he flips and flops and is continually abhorrent.

    Personally, I wish we had traded all the prisoners in Gitmo for Bergdahl. Then we could have closed that stain on the USA down for good.

  29. 29
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    I suppose it was a really “inside baseball” kind of thing, it was a well known rumour inside the armed forces but never got into the official narrative of the war, which of course was very well orchestrated.

    My favorite story of the war was when a platoon of marines were yomping across the island and came across a hut in the middle of nowhere. The young Royal Marine 1st Lt (fresh out of basic) commanded his gang to take over the hut to use it as a temporary HQ. They entered the hut all gung ho and told the swarthy occupants who were gathered around a table poring over maps to vacate the building immediately. The old crusty Sgt. Major told the 1st Lt. to shut up and quietly exit the hut. The 1st Lt. told the Sgt. Major to be quiet and he was going to commandeer the hut. The swarthy long haired louts sat at the table turned and looked at him as the Sgt. Major said to the 1st Lt. “boss, they’re SAS”. The 1st Lt. and his gang left the hut.

    I never tire of telling that story.

  30. 30
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Ajabu: Even as we speak Chris Matthews is going berserk over the “5 really bad guys” t

    I had to turn that off. Tweety was incoherent (more so than usual) and the fourteen year old terrorism analyst saying Obama should have held out for more, like a pledge of “renouncement” of al Qaeda by the Taliban. Oh, okay. Cause that would have been infallible!

    Tweety’s a creature of almost pure emotion. The other side of the coin of the sentimentality that sent a thrill up his leg when Obama talked in ’08 is a hyperactive imagination that credits the Taliban (which in all these discussions is inseparable from al Qaeda) with superhuman powers (and superhuman evil).

  31. 31
    greennotGreen says:

    In the Bethea article Soonergrunt linked to in a post below, the author uses Bergdahl’s body armor, rifle, and helmet being left behind while he took his compass as proof he deserted. Might that not be an indication of his state of mind? No helmet, maybe, because that would label him a US soldier, but no body armor in a war zone? And why is Bethea so quick to believe that someone in the enemy’s custody did anything of his own free will?.

    Conservatives. I would say they’re too quick to judge, but since they don’t care about facts, I guess there’s no reason to wait till all the information’s in.

  32. 32
    SFAW says:


    I never tire of telling that story.

    I don’t blame you, I wouldn’t, either.

  33. 33
    Long Tooth says:

    @Ajabu: Your problem with Matthews is easily explained.

    The man has never done a 180 in his life. What he does is perform a continual, politically convenient 360 degree loop. That’s his schtick, year in-and-year-upon-dreary-year out again.

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Newly minted officers are often total idiots about a great many things. Some never grow out of it, in fact. Some get to be flag officers…that total jackoff Boykin, for example.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:

    The former Army guys talking about how Bergdahl shouldn’t have been rescued because he was unworthy should probably think really hard about whether they want rescues to be based on popularity contests.

    I don’t doubt that there was something wonky about the way he vanished (though it sounds more like mental illness than deliberate desertion to the enemy) and I get why the guys around him are pissed off that their fellow soldiers got killed looking for him, but what was the alternative? Should they have taken a vote in the compound about whether or not they should try to find him?

  36. 36
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also (since I’m having trouble editing things today), I wonder if a certain amount of the animus and pissed-offedness is that they weren’t able to find Bergdahl and that failure has been nagging at them. It had to have given at least a few of the guys (and gals) nightmares that they, too, might be captured and hidden away so well that no one would ever find them, and the natural reaction would be to decide that Bergdahl didn’t deserve to be rescued than to face that fear head-on.

  37. 37
    Patrick says:


    Even as we speak Chris Matthews is going berserk over the “5 really bad guys” that were exchanged for Bergdahl.

    Chris Matthews? The same IDIOT who thought Bush belonged on Mt Rushmore…Case closed.

  38. 38
    Mr. Twister says:

    As they used to say on the Internets, “This”.

  39. 39
    Lyrebird says:

    Thank you JC!

    Here’s what I say: what if it’d been Elvis? Didn’t he serve in the Army or something? Whiny stupid copycat annoying dope fiend. If he’d been captured and kept prisoner, should we’ve gotten him out?

    And I don’t care if his parents are the frootiest loops on the planet, they are parents who’ve been through something I pray never happens to me or anyone close to me. And their son IS HOME against so many odds. I really don’t understand how some of the shouters can face themselves in the mirror, or how they get oxygen from their lungs to their extremities either. No heart at all.

  40. 40
    Lee Rudolph says:


    who thought Bush belonged on Mt Rushmore

    Well, he does. Hanging on like Cary Grant, but with a different ending…

  41. 41

    Yeah, okay, JC, this is going on my Quote of the Day post. Thanks.

  42. 42
    Patrick says:


    And their son IS HOME against so many odds. I really don’t understand how some of the shouters can face themselves in the mirror, or how they get oxygen from their lungs to their extremities either. No heart at all.

    And not only that; what the hell happened to SUPPORT OUR TROOPS???

  43. 43
    john fremont says:

    @ellennelle: There was also Robert Garwood USMC brought back in 1979 and he was court martialed and given a dishonorable discharge during the 1980’s IIRC. We still didn’t leave him behind

  44. 44
    Mike in NC says:

    @Patrick: That’s merely a bumper sticker. In reality, chickenhawks look down on anybody wearing a uniform — soldiers, sailors, firefighters, police, bus drivers, etc. — as suckers who made the wrong career choice.

  45. 45
    Summer says:

    I couldn’t tear myself away from the comments on the Daily Beast site. In addition to all the commenters calling Bergdahl a traitor and a deserter, there was also this gem:
    This doesn’t even pass the smell test. Bergdahl is just a cover for something more nefarious. Like a quid pro quo for Obama and Al Qaeda. I wouldn’t be surprised to find campaign contributions hidden somewhere amongst the transactions. And was Obama’s secret trip to Afghanistan (to accept the payoff) after/before he met with Killary, his partner in crime at Benghazi. Since Benghazi didn’t work and the Amb Stevens kidnap was unsuccessful they had to find another useful captive. Bergdahl is just a small part of this whole story, why five gitmo detainees? why these five? Bergdahle was held by the Haqqani’s not the Taliban or Al Qaeda. This thing stinks to high heaven and is rotten to the core. And of course Obama trots out Ms. Rice of the video story fame to say Bergdahl served with distinction and honor. These people wouldn’t know honor if it slapped them upside the head!

  46. 46
    The Other Chuck says:


    ‘Al’ is Arabic for ‘The’. I believe “lenwest” translates to “festering shitheap”

  47. 47
    Lee says:

    Even the ones you may think were shitbirds.

    This is the crux of the problem. This is literally beyond their comprehension.

  48. 48
    SiubhanDuinne says:



  49. 49
    MikeBoyScout says:

    As a Vet, I appreciate your being very vocal about this issue.

    And to trolls and chickenhawk POS-s, I will F-U up 3 ways to Sunday for any ‘argument’ that says we don’t do everything we can to bring our brothers and sisters in uniform home. Try me.

  50. 50
    D58826 says:

    @Summer: Whoever typed that was on some powerful weed

  51. 51
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @D58826: Mushrooms, mescaline, and meth.

  52. 52
    Ruckus says:

    I haven’t had any weed in decades but I’ve never even heard of any weed that will make you that delusional. Sounds more like the bad acid you weren’t supposed to take at Woodstock.

  53. 53
    Ruckus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):
    All at the same time and washed down with Southern Comfort. Between the drugs and the sugar high….

  54. 54
    D58826 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): What I find so amazing (or maybe amusing is the better word) about these conspiracy theories is they present Obama in two totally opposite ways at the same time. He is weak incompetent boob and yet at the same time is a power mad dictator who manages these world wide conspiracies to destroy America .
    I realize logic and coherent thinking is not a job requirement for the right.

  55. 55
    Betsy says:

    John — righteous!

  56. 56
    r€nato says:

    y’all wouldn’t be sticking up for this guy if you’d seen his countertops like I have.

  57. 57
    EriktheRed says:

    Although me to put on my Captain Obvious costume and say this:

    This all about hating on the guy in the Oval Office.

    Just to give one example:

    …back in January, the site for Tapper’s CNN show, The Lead, linked to a Jim Sciutto story titled “New Hope for American POW,” that said nothing about the desertion rumors. (Sciutto merely said that “Bergdahl was 23 when he was captured after finishing a guard shift at a combat outpost in southeastern Paktika province.”) On February 12, Tapper did a segment on The Lead in which he discused Bergdahl’s case with Josh Rogin of the Daily Beast without ever mentioning the desertion narrative[…]

    On February 23, Tapper appeared on a segment of CNN’s Reliable Sources to talk about Bergdahl with host Brian Stelter. This time, Tapper did mention the desertion rumors — only to argue that they were no reason to end efforts to bring Bergdahl home

    Total fuckin’ hypocrites.

  58. 58
    Gravenstone says:


    And not only that; what the hell happened to SUPPORT OUR TROOPS???

    The “Troops” are an abstraction to Republicans. They are a handy panacea when they need something to point to that shows American strength and resolution (as they perceive it). They are a terrible inconvenience when you actually have to feed and clothe and supply them, because that costs money. And of course, caring for them once they’re no longer useful to your current narrative, perish the fucking thought! At that point, they become useless, unwashed moochers.

  59. 59
    Joseph Nobles says:

    @ranchandsyrup: I’ve seen that, too. And one of my printable responses is, “So who is Sean Smith, chopped liver?”

  60. 60
    coin operated says:

    What gets me is the shrieking-like-a-schoolgirl mentality of the teabaggers in regards to the Guantanamo Five. We’ve not had an attack on US soil in…what…a decade? Jeeze people…learn to evaluate your threats and assign a credible priority to them.

    Edited to add…I’m more worried about the jackhole airline employees who were walking drug money past security at the airports. Those kind of people can be bought…

  61. 61
    EriktheRed says:


    Ah, shit.

    For those who haven’t figured it out, “although” in the first sentence should be “allow”.

  62. 62
    EriktheRed says:

    @Gravenstone: I’ve always considered “the troops” to be a Baby On Board sign for the wingnuts, when it comes to debating.

  63. 63
    LAC says:

    Great post. Amen!!

  64. 64
    mike with a mic says:

    It was my experience in the Navy that we’ll even get peopled killed to recover someone, or their remains.

    @JC I don’t know if it’s an “unwritten code”, it’s pretty open. We even have SAR and CSAR (Search And Rescue and Combat Search And Rescue for you civies) units with a moto “so others may live” in our services. It’s one of the most basic promises any member of the military makes to every other member, “I will come get you, or die trying”.

    Perhaps more importantly, the concept that everyone comes back is one of the marks of a civilized military, the “good guys” if you will. Military’s that don’t bring back their dead tend to be made up of poor or captured conscripts forced into action or those lead by dictators and tyrants. Bringing back your dead is one of those values we share with all our allies, refusal to do so is something we use to point out a lack of humanity in our enemies.

  65. 65
    mainmata says:

    I think the point is that we are using the general military to do what are actually special forces operations or non-military actions and this has long since been obvious, except to the moron/bought pols. John, mostly, we mostly don’t need your tank corps anymore if we are thinking about smart war. This is not WWII or even Korea/Vietnam anymore.

    Massive general army operations have largely been rendered obsolete since the advent of the Internet Age (I’m quite serious.). I don’t like the idea of Obama’s drone attacks but they are rational as well as being cost-effective. The problem has been that the CIA/military has been sloppy in its targeting (actually mainly CIA – they are awful rubbish).

  66. 66
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    As someone on the twitters noted, this is the kind of mental kerfuffle that comes when everybody in the armed forces is declared a hero until they get declared a traitor.

  67. 67
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: That is sort of what I was getting at above.

  68. 68
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): Indeed you did, and I missed it, and you said it better.

    It is possible to respect military service and also note that a) it’s a job; b) the US does tend to apportion an awful lot of bennies to military veterans that might be better off distributed more broadly.

    But the US is an especially martial society.

  69. 69
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @coin operated:

    What gets me is the shrieking-like-a-schoolgirl mentality of the teabaggers in regards to the Guantanamo Five. We’ve not had an attack on US soil in…what…a decade?

    And by Afghans in… well, that never happened. But, y’know, brown people.

    The Taliban chose poorly over their preferred foreign associates. But Afghanistan is their country, and the future of Afghanistan is more part of their future than it is for anyone in the US.

  70. 70
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: My problem is, having been one and therefore known many, I don’t see soldiers as different. Too many people, and many of my ostensible peer group, don’t know any. It makes it easy to buy into the good and bad myths.

  71. 71

    […] John Cole at Balloon Juice on why we secured the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl: […]

  72. 72
    Dave says:

    @coin operated: More so because the Taliban, and that’s a very klunky term that ignores subgroups with significant disparities, has never been particularly concerned with anything that it views as outside it’s sphere of influence. They aren’t really international ya know. Plus five guys who are probably exhausted and haven’t been part of any structure for something like a decade. People are ridiculous it’s sad more than anything.

  73. 73
    fidelio says:

    @mike with a mic: It’s a sign your troops are “one of us”, not just tools for a specific, bloody use. DIfferent countries have had different points in time where this point dawned on them. But it’s a sign of a country that doesn’t see a barrier between its citizens and it’s army, or between both of them and its rulers.

  74. 74
    Ken Adler says:

    @Ajabu: Honestly, if you’re watching Matthew, you are (and he knows) probably sticking around to watch Hayes and Maddow for the next 2 hours, so you just wait to get the proper info.

  75. 75
    Rex Everything says:

    Heh. Shitbirds.

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